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Crime Rose 8.8 Percent in Santa Monica Last Year, Police Chief Says in Video Address
By Jorge Casuso
January 30, 2019 --In a video address posted Wednesday -- the first of three installments -- Santa Monica Police Chief Cynthia Renaud reported that crime in the beach city increased by 8.8 percent in 2018.
There were 450 more serious crimes last year than in 2017, or 1.23 more per day, Renaud said in the video posted on the department's Facebook page.
The increase comes after serious crime in Santa Monica rose 12.5 percent in 2017, with violent crime increasing by almost 50 percent ("Violent Crime in Santa Monica Jumps Almost 50 Percent to Reach Highest Level in Two Decades," May 14, 2018).
In the video, the chief discusses "what is driving the 2018 stats and most importantly, what the Department is doing about it."
Theft and burglary accounted for the hike -- with 119 more vehicle burglaries, most of them "window smashes," and 373 more thefts, with bicycles being stolen at "an easy pace," the chief said.
"Theft and burglary are what comprise our crime increases here in Santa Monica," Renaud said, adding that arrests were made in 51 percent of the robbery cases.
Of the violent crime reported, 34.88 percent were robberies and 56.71 percent were aggravated assaults.
Of the robberies, 24 percent were classified as an "Estes Robbery," which takes place when a shoplifter is "confronted by someone to try to stop them on the way out," Renaud said.
"This confrontation between the suspect and the citizen turns the misdemeanor petty theft into a felony robbery," she said.
Of the aggravated assaults, 20 percent were domestic-violence- related, and "many" were "alcohol and drinking-establishment- related."
"In a large number of (later) cases, the suspect and the victim are known to each other and fought over or about something in particular," the chief said.
Murder accounted for 0.88 percent of the violent crime and 7.53 percent were rapes, Renaud said.
In 2018, police responded to more calls for service than in 2017 and made 1,078 felony arrests and 2,654 misdemeanor arrests, Renaud said.
The second part of the five-and-a-half-minute video focuses on what the department is doing to address these "crime challenges."
SMPD, Renaud said, is "working hard to hire and fill our budgeted numbers to get up to full staff.
"As Santa Monica has been running about 20 officers under full budgeted strength, getting these positions hired and trained will be extremely important."
The department also is boosting patrols in neighborhoods and business districts and deploying the mounted unit to parks and highly visited open spaces more frequently, she said.
It also has recreated the "crime impact team" that tracks crime trends to make pro-active deployments and is sending the homeless liaison program team out seven days a week.
The Department also is seeking regulatory solutions, Renaud said.
She cited the Department's successful efforts last year to restrict the hours at the Downtown McDonald's that was the site of criminal activities ("City Restricts Downtown McDonald's Hours in Effort to Curb "Criminal Activities," November 15, 2018).
And the Department is securing parking areas to lessen the number of vehicle robberies, Renaud said.
The Chief urged residents to attend the Department's Community Police Academy, start a Neighborhood Watch Group or sponsor a meet-your neighbor event.
And she advised them not to "leave valuables in your cars, secure your possessions and remain aware of your surroundings."
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